Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Perth Bushfire Disaster

Seventy two homes destroyed, more than thirty damaged. Miraculously no lives were lost - and how did this happen? In part, according to media reports, it was due to someone deciding to use an angle grinder in the open, despite a total fire ban (which includes using machinery). As angle grinders give off a shower of sparks while they cut through metal, these set fire to the surrounding area. There is little comprehension of how even a small spark can set fire dry grasses. Add in strong winds such as we had over the weekend in Perth and even one spark is a recipe for disaster.

This is indicative of the lack of understanding of the danger of fire in the community. We are increasingly a suburban society and people don't have the experience with fire of previous generations. Our homes are for the most part surrounded by well-watered and maintained gardens and for many a backyard barbecue doesn't involve a fire but gas, in house cooking is with gas or electricity and we are increasingly abandoning wood fires for alternative heating. So for most people fires, if they have any experience of them, are small and easily controlled.

For where total fire bans are in place and what you can and cannot do when a total fire ban is in place in Western Australia go to the FESA website.

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